Nelson MP Nick Smith with a thresher shark from the collection of preserved marine life that will be on display in the proposed fishing and marine museum in the Plant and Food building on Rocks Rd. Photo: Simon Bloomberg.

MP wants marine museum

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A collection of “amazing marine creatures” will be one of the big attractions at a new fishing museum and marine education centre to be established in the Plant and Food building on Rocks Road in Nelson.

The marine museum is one of five projects on Nelson MP Nick Smith’s to-do-list which he announced at his election campaign launch at the Boathouse last Thursday. The private collection of “hundreds of specimens of seabirds, fish, marine mammals” had been purchased by Peter Talley, who last week donated it to the newly formed trust that will manage the marine museum project. “This new centre is about asserting and celebrating our status as New Zealand’s fishing capital and the largest fishing port in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s the right idea, right time and right place,” Nick says.

The centre will also have live fish in aquariums and “a place where children get their hands wet and learn about the marine environment”. It will feature displays of the history of Nelson’s fishing industry “from early Maori to our modern fleet”.

“The timing is right because Plant and Food are intending to vacate the heritage powerhouse building in 2016, as they relocate to their new Port Nelson facilities,” Nick says. “The water intakes, filters, fish tanks and labs are ideal for a marine education centre.”

The marine animal collection will be one of the features of the museum and Nick is delighted that Peter has generously gifted it to the trust. The animals, which were preserved by a Whangarei taxidermist and owned by a private collector, were purchased by Peter about 15 years ago, Nick says.

The new trust will be chaired by well-respected Nelson maritime lawyer Peter Dawson.

“There is much work to do on a feasibility study, fundraising, securing the building with the city council and developing this concept, but I am excited about the potential for this idea to enhance Nelson,” Nick says.

Also on Nick’s to-do-list is progressing the Waimea Community Dam and Irrigation Scheme, further improving the region’s health services by establishing a Health Learning Centre, advancing the relocation of State Highway 6 down the Southern Link route, and progressing the earthquake strengthening of Nelson’s historic School of Music.